European Comprehensive School Reform

Workshop theme

In the 1960s, a comprehensive school reform movement swept across Europe with the general dual aim of promoting equal educational opportunities and economic growth. As the historical basis for trend in Europe, the outcomes of this policy trend varied starkly between countries and regions. In Scandinavian countries, a unified school system for (nearly) all children in primary and secondary school was created, while England and Germany have retained a comparatively segmented school system.

Although the national histories of comprehensive education, and the international development of comprehensive schooling from a comparative perspective, has been dealt with in a number of important studies, much remains to be studied regarding the social, political and cultural history of the varying conditions, forms and impact of comprehensive school reform in Europe.

In this workshop, we want to take further steps towards innovative project proposals on this theme. We thus welcome a range of papers addressing both the micro and the macro perspectives, covering issues such as the ideals, actors, and educational practices of these reform. These papers may deal with national and transnational politics, addressing, for example the tensions between varying educational ideals of comprehensive schooling (equality, differentiation, child-centeredness), and the actors engaging in these school reforms. These may include teachers and teacher unions, local government, researchers, higher education institutions, textbook authors, and publishers.

On local and regional levels, the rise of comprehensive schooling may be addressed in a range of fashions. Papers may discuss the translation of policies into educational practices, the changing teacher and pupil experiences of comprehensive schooling, the actual building of schools for a comprehensive school system, and the regional variations in the introduction of comprehensive schooling could be addressed.

As the purpose of this workshop is to promote further work into the European comprehensive school reform, the presentations of this workshop may both cover studies already conducted, planned articles and project proposals.


Due to Covid-19, the workshop will be organized in a hybrid format on October 20-21, 2020. The program of the workshop is available here>>

Organizers: Johannes Westberg and Hilda Amsing, History and Philosophy of Education, University of Groningen

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